The Delegation of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights highly praised the success of the Revolution of Tunisia for the establishment of democracy and freedom. Mona Rishmawi, Head of OHCHR’s Rule of Law and Democracy Unit, is our interviewee for this week.
What can we expect from this visit the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Tunisia?
Our visit is intended to make an initial assessment of the challenges of human rights and examine with a variety of stakeholders including, inter alia, the United Nations team, and members of the civil society and the interim government on how the High Commission can assist the Tunisian population in enhancing respect for human rights.
After the revolution against a dictatorship of 23 years, How Tunisia will have to think about its future?
Tunisia needs a fundamental change in the security apparatus. Tunisia must ensure the independence of its judiciary, Constitution and laws. The latter should protect and promote human rights. Torture and other inhuman treatment are strongly prohibited. A new hope has risen in Tunisia. A successful democratic transition in Tunisia may stand as a “model” for Maghreb and Muslim countries. It calls, in particular, for reviewing the EU’s partnerships with the Southern countries on demands for democracy, respect for human rights and equality.
During your visit to Tunisia, which places had you visited and why?
It is noteworthy that our visit essentially aims to support the transition to democracy in Tunisia, to become a model in the Maghreb. For us it is a very important event especially in a Muslim country. We followed closely the historical events caused by the Tunisian population in recent weeks which have led to the departure of former president on January 14, 2011. To better understand the reason for this revolution which is considered as “extraordinary,” we paid visits to two prisons located in Bizerte. We consider that this is an important indication of the change that prevails in Tunisia, and is a reflection of the willingness of our partners to establish change in laws and practices. We also spoke with prisoners who demanded freedom, justice and dignity. These words have been repeated by all Tunisian men and women of different social classes and all those who feel stripped of their dignities.
What do you think about what is happening now in Egypt?
“The Revolution of Jasmines” has been enhanced in several Arab countries, which have been fascinated by the will of Tunisia to snatch its freedom and dignity back and to end the dictatorship of Ben Ali. The smell of jasmine is in Egypt, democracy is a dream to achieve, but this dream must be real. Each individual has the right to have his freedom, his right to speak, but we must keep calm and patient and know how to communicate to find effective solutions between the government and people. Everyone is worried about the awful situation in Egypt. Several victims were recorded during these events. Personally, I am really touched by what happens in Egypt.